So I found myself back in California last week. It's been three weeks since my last visit, and the almonds in the southern San Joaquin Valley had good leaf emergence now. This is looking down the tree rows in one orchard.
But there are still flowers from later opening buds that need pollinating, as this bee is doing. But the adjacent flowers have dropped their petals. Recall from my previous visit that there were nighttime temperatures below freezing. There was concern on the effects of that on the flowers.
SAM Dylan is holding a pistil where the base is black indicating that it was killed by the frost. Sorry the pic isn't better, but black is black...
But that was the only one we found. Here is a cross section of the ovary, green and growing. A frost at this stage would be devastating as it is full of gel and would freeze and that would be the end of any almonds there.
Here is a bee at work. I showed some hives in the earlier almond blog post. I did a little reading on almonds and bees. It seems that almond flowers have very little nectar. The bees actually consume the nectar themselves, and any honey that is produced back in the hive is also consumed by them. In fact, that honey is bitter, and the keepers don't collect it, but leave it for them to eat. But they do a good job of pollinating. Further, researchers have found a specific bee attractant (amygdalin) in almond nectar to ensure pollination. Interesting.
Although he was busy, I asked this bee: "You taste nectar and pollen from all sorts of flowers. If the nectar from trees that received AgroLiquid tastes better than that from other fertilizer, raise your hand."
Now who can argue with that?